Conflicts & War

From the Eurovision stage to Ukraine’s front lines

By Luis Angel Reglero

Kharkiv, Ukraine, Jun 4 (EFE).- The Ukrainian soldiers bunkered down in the front line trenches outside Kharkiv, near the Russian border, are braced for a drawn-out war but before the conflict broke out many of these troops dedicated their lives to different professions.

One such fighter is Den, who like the rest of the soldiers at the front outside Ukraine’s second largest city, prefers to go by a pseudonym.

Den has gone from representing his country at Eurovision, performing with the Ukrainian band O.Torvald when the competition was held in Kyiv in 2017, to defending it in the trenches.

“I swapped my guitar for an automatic rifle,” Den, who signed up to fight when Russia invaded on February 24, tells Efe.

“The situation now requires tough decisions. The majority of my musician friends are also on the front lines,” he adds. “We came here voluntarily, we knew what was coming.”

The Russian onslaught on Ukraine has surpassed its 100th day. Den and his comrades are stationed in trenches dug into the farmland that surrounds Kharkiv and while they are confident they can resist any Russian offensive, they need more weapons in order to defeat the invading army.

“They (the Russians) are doing everything to send our country’s development back 10 years, we have to stop this,” he said.

But for the armed conflict to end, they need “modern artillery and missile systems” to face “an army that is much larger than us, but despite this, we inflicted heavy losses on them.”

At a nearby trench, a heavily armed Vinin, who also goes by a pseudonym, emerges from a wooded area.

When the Russian invasion started, he got his family to safety and enlisted in the army. He now handles a rocket launcher, which he had to quickly learn how to use.

“We will not give anything to the enemy, we will be together until the end,” he says on a muddy road next to the camouflaged trench.

“We are prepared to continue in the battle. For us, time does not matter, 100 days or more, we will be here, or wherever we are assigned, until victory”, he concludes.

These members of the National Guard, a reserve force within the Ukrainian army, have been posted outside Kharkiv to prevent the Russians from recapturing the area following its liberation. EFE


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